Some folks are just too hard headed for their own good. They don’t know when to read the writing on the wall and pack it in. Dallas Moore was never going to “make it” in country music. He’s too damn country, too damn hairy, and way too obstinate to bend to the will of anyone on Music Row.
So his only option was to sweat it out as a journeyman in honky tonks, and hope that all the miles driven and dues paid over multiple decades would somehow pay off in a modicum of recognition and personal fulfillment. And where others gave up, gave out, ended up in prison or worse, Dallas Moore just kept on churning his legs until through the sheer force of his will, he went from being one of the young whipper snappers out there trying to keep the legacy of the ol’ country music Outlaws alive, to someone who’s carved out his own legacy, and now has the younger guys looking up to him.
Dallas Moore is known more as a honky tonk road warrior than an album guy or a dedicated songwriter. To make a career in country music work, he has to spend some 300 days a year on the road to make rent. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for creeping around studios, or gnawing on pencils trying to craft the next lyrical hook.
But of course 2020 had different plans, and was the hardest on road dogs like Dallas who make almost their entire living in the live setting. Take them off the road, and they don’t know what to do with themselves. They’re like wild animals pacing around the house. Lucky for Dallas Moore though, he was able to tame his restless spirit, and utilize the time to compose the 10 songs of his latest record The Rain released back in April.
Dallas Moore songs have always been more like facsimiles of older country songs with some minor revisions as opposed to poetic works of striking originality. He leans on words and phrases that worked in the past because that’s what he’s trying to pay tribute to, and a handful of the songs of The Rain fit into that category, including the quarantine song “Locked Down and Loaded,” which dates itself rather quickly.
But The Rain also might include some of the best songs that Dallas Moore has written to date, facilitated by the required time off in 2020, and an opportunity to look more inward. “The Rain,” “Ride Down By The River,” “Ain’t No Place in the Sun,” and even “Blue Jean Jesus” about a preaching vagrant show a new level of introspection to Dallas Moore’s songwriting that we may have never been revealed if he was riding around in a van all year to the next gig.
This is underscored especially on final song on the album “Last Days,” which takes on special meaning after Moore’s right hand man for 27 years—guitarist Chuck Morpurgo—passed away in November. Morpurgo played on every one of Moore’s records, and The Rain includes his final contributions.
Dallas Moore is still the ultimate country music honky tonk road warrior though, and that’s stamped into this record too, including in the banger and true story, “Every Night I Burn Another Honky Tonk Down” that will have you stomping your boot heel clean through the floor. Beyond anything else, The Rain is just a really enjoyable record to listen to cover to cover.
And it’s all flattered by producer Dean Miller who proves himself a master craftsman of old school country once again on The Rain, utilizing a host of top flight musicians such as Jenee Fleenor on fiddle, and Steve Hinson on steel guitar. Even when Dallas delivers a line that’s a little cliché, it still sounds so good from the conviction behind his delivery, the authenticity from his gravely, road-worn voice, and the spit polish Dean Miller puts on it, like the way “Ride Down By The River” is extended out at the end to really grasp the spirit of the song.
Dallas Moore’s had to build a career brick by brick over nearly three decades with no help from the mainstream industry, working under the faith that one day it will all add up to something that will withstand the test of time. And whether it’s cumulatively when looking at his career in 2021, or specifically with The Rain, he’s most certainly accomplished this.
1 1/2 Guns Up (7.5/10)
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